Even though a lot of people in the industry we talk with refer to OCZ as a "marketing company", the fact of the matter is that what company states, delivers [unless an occasional blunder such as long-delayed Kryo-Z]. During CeBIT 2009, OCZ introduced the Z-Drive, a PCI Express x8-based "SSD card". The Z-Drive is actually nothing more than four MLC-based SSD drives together in hardware RAID array, promising speeds of those achieved by the Fusion-io drives, but only at 25% of the cost [truth to be told, the Z-Drive is MLC based, while Fusion-io drives are all based on expensive SLC chips]. The card itself is based upon Barefoot SSD controller from Indillix. We asked when the drives can be expected, and the answer was "soon". That soon came today, in the form of a French e-tailer who posted the prices and performance characteristics of the device.

You’ll be happy to know that the final unit is more polished than the prototype unit, measuring 245mm in length, 124mm in height and 22mm in depth. When comparing the part to the graphics cards, boards that most often occupy the PCI Express slot, Z-drive is just three millimeters longer than Radeon HD4870 and 15mm shorter than GeForce GTX260/280. The card is a single-slot one, with a 45mm small fan on the backside of the card – most of graphics cards have their fans on the front side, but OCZ was not constrained by the position of the chip and placed the cooler where it makes the most sense e.g. gets the coldest air.

Z-Drive in its final form looks very dangerous...note the small fan on top of this single-slot card
Z-Drive in its final form looks very dangerous…note the small fan on top of this single-slot card

There are three models available: 250GB, 500GB and 1TB. OCZ was saying that the 1TB model will set you back for $1,500, but it looks like OCZ did not want to disclose the line-up, and the statement "prices start at $1,500" was miss-interpreted with "1TB for $1,500". Needless to say, that trick gave them a lot of positive press, but we’re not exactly oh-so positive in regards to the move. A bit more clarity would have been recommended. The real prices in this French store reveal a price of 1400 Euro for the 250GB part, 2200 EUR for the 500GB part and 3400 EUR for the big daddy, the 1TB model.

What do you get for that money? You get performance. The 250GB model should read data at 450 MB/s and write at 300 MB/s. The 500GB is the fastest of the bunch, with read speed set at 510MB/s and write at 480MB/s. King of the capacity hill will read the data at 500 MB/s, with write speeds up to 470 MB/s – don’t ask us why the 500GB model is faster than the 1TB one unless that was a typo.

Bear in mind that even with these prices, the drives are much cheaper than the competition… a Fusion-io IODrive 160GB will set you back a cool $6840.00, and we won’t go into 320GB or 640GB models. All in all, we would say that Z-Drive represents a brave product move for OCZ Technology as the product line definitely belongs to the ultra-small volume product.